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Solar System and its planets.

The Solar System:

The Solar System comprises of the Sun and eight planets (excluding Pluto) which revolves around it in a fixed orbits. The Sun is the center of the Solar system. Distance-wise Mercury is the closest to the Sun followed by Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Pluto was excluded from the Solar System by the scientists and was declared as a dwarf planet.

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The Sun:

The Sun is a larger bright star which forms the center of the Solar System. The Sun and surrounding stars move in a circular orbit around the galactic center at a speed of 285 km/sec and take 224 million years to complete one revolution. This period is called Cosmic Year. The Sun is 400,000 times brighter than the full moon. At the core of the Sun, temperature is about 36 million degree Fahrenheit (20 million degree Celcius) because the Hydrogen is converted into Helium at the rate of 6 million tons/ second. The energy released by these nuclear reactions is in the form of x-rays which  heats up the surrounding area extending over millions of miles. The surface temperature of Sun is 6000 degree Celcius. It is very large in size with a diameter of 865,400 miles.

The Planets of Solar System:

01. Mercury:

Mercury is the nearest planet to the Sun. It has a diameter of 4,880 Km and revolves around the Sun at a distance 57.9 million kilometers. It completes a revolution in 88 days. The temperature of its surface ranges between -346 Fahrenheit on dark side to 950 degree Fahrenheit on the side facing the Sun. Its surface is highly cratered.

02. Venus:

Venus has diameter of 12,100 kilometers and is the second closest planet to the Sun. It completes a revolution in 224.7 days. Venus has an atmospheric pressure equal to 94.5 times that of earth. American space craft Magellan reached Venus on 10th of August, 1990 and explored its surface. A channel 1.8 km wide and 4,200 miles long was discovered on its surface.

03. Earth:

Earth is the third closest planet to the Sun which maintains a distance of 149.6 million kilometers. It has a diameter of 12,756 km and completes a revolution in 365.2 days with a speed of 67,000 miles/hour. Moreover it rotates on its axis completing one revolution in 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4.09 seconds. Earth has a mass of 6.6 sextillion tons. Atmosphere of Earth comprises of 78% Nitrogen, 21% Oxygen and 1% other gases. The air blanket has a height of 60 miles. The atmosphere of Earth is divided into five zones. Troposphere (0-7 miles), Stratosphere (7-30 miles), Mesosphere (30-50 miles), the thermosphere (50-400 miles) and Exosphere (above 400 miles). Main Data of Earth is as given.

  1. Age                                       = 4.55 billion years.
  2. Total Area                           = 510.072 million sq.km.
  3. Land Area                           = 148.94 million sq.km.
  4. water Area                          = 361.132 million sq.km
  5. Land Boundaries               =251,480.24 km
  6. Total Coastlines                 = 356,000 km
  7. Total Irrigated Land         =2,714,320 sq.km
  8. Highest elevation              =Mount Everest (29,035 ft above sea level).
  9. Greatest Ocean Depth      = Mariana Trench (-35,840 feet below sea level).

04. Mars:

Mars is the brightest planet in the sky. It is the fourth planet from Sun with distance of 227.9 million kilometers. It completes one revolution in 687 days. Its surface comprises of many craters, volcanoes, chasms and a huge grand canyon. The canyon is 50 miles wide, 2.5 million deep and 3,000 miles long. The highest elevation is Olympic Mons with a height of 78,000 feet. Mars has two small satellites names Deimos and Phobos. Out of these two Deimos (15 km long) completes a round in 30.35 hours whereas Phobos (27 km long) takes 7.6 hours for a revolution. Probing of Mars began in July 1979 when a spacecraft Viking-1 landed on its surface. Later on, many other missions provided data about this planet. These included Mars Pathfinder (1996), Mars Global Surveyor (1997), Mars Polarfinder (1998), Mars Surveyor (2001), Mars Express (2003), Spirit and Opportunity (2004) and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (2005). According to the scientists, Mars (Red Planet) is the only planet where chances of life exist due to its similarities with Earth.

05. Jupiter:

Jupiter is the fifth closest planet to the Sun with a distance of 778.3 million kilometers. Jupiter is the largest planet of the solar system because it has a diameter of 142,800 kilometers. It completes a revolution around the Sun in 11.86 years. Its equatorial diameter is 88,736 miles. Jupiter also completes a revolution around its axis in 9 hours and 55 minutes. It is known as giant planet due to its size which is 1300 times bigger than that of Earth. Surface of Jupiter has an oval red spot which is equal to the size of Earth. Spacecraft Galileo probed its surface on 7th of December, 1995. Jupiter has 63 satellites, out of which the largest are Ganymede (diameter 3,275 miles), Europa (1,950 miles), Callisto (2,400 miles), and Lo (2,262 miles).

06. Saturn:

Saturn is the second largest planet of the Solar System with a diameter of 120,660 km. It maintains a distance of 1,427 million km from the Sun and completes a revolution in 29.46 years. It has a mass equal to 95 times than that of Earth. The surface of Saturn is marked by dark cloud markings, curling ribbons, swirls, eddies and belts. Its ring system is made of variety of particles which move in circular orbits. The temperature of its surface ranges between -312 Fahrenheit to -202 Fahrenheit.

Saturn has 56 satellites out of which Titan (diameter 3200 miles) is the largest. Other major satellites includes Tethys, Dione, Rhea, Lapetus, Mimas, Pan, Phoebe, Erceladus, and Hyperion. Like Earth the Saturn has its own atmosphere.

07. Uranus:

Uranus is the 7th planet from the Sun which maintains a distance of 2,870 million kilometers. It completes a revolution in 84 years. Uranus has a diameter of 51,810 kilometers. In 1781, William Herchel identified it as a planet. Its atmosphere is composed of Hydrogen, Helium and Methane. Uranus has 11 rings and 27 satellites. its major moons include Oberon, Titania, Umbriel, Ariel, Miranda, Puck, Calliban, Setebos, Prospero, Sycrax and Stephano. Out of these, Titania is the largest wit its own atmosphere.

08. Neptune:

Neptune is the 8th planet from the Sun. It revolves around the Sun at a distance of 4,797 million kilometer and completes a revolution in 165 years. Neptune was discovered by J.D Galle (Germany) in 1846. It is the smallest of the four gas giants Viz Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Neptune has a diameter of 49,528 kilometer and has four rings and 13 moons. Out of which prominent are Triton, Nereid, Larissa, Naiad, Thalassa, Proteus, Despina and Galatea.

09. Pluto:

Pluto was previously considered as the 9th planet of the Solar System but on 24th August, 2006, it was reclassified as a dwarf planet by International Austronomical Union (IAU) and thus excluded from the system. As a result, the Solar System  now comprises of eight planets.

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